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 |  Jan 25 2012, 9:47 AM


In 1989, Rick Moranis played a nerdy dad who accidentally downsized his children to an insect scale in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. He probably wouldn’t have believed it if someone told him that 23 years later automakers would be doing the same thing to their cars.

For those of us living in the North American 2012, there are increasingly large swarms of little cars buzzing around the streets. The din their tiny engines makes isn’t overwhelming yet, but just wait.

General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, is planning to release a micro car they’re calling the Allegra (or, tentatively, Junior). No, not the allergy medication, though the thing is small enough to be mistaken for a bee in ragweed season, at least compared to the standard American palate. When the Allegra hits Europe in 2013 it will probably stand to compete against cars like the Volkswagen Up, MINI Cooper and Fiat 500.

In fact, it’s a solid 3.3 feet longer than the Mercedes-Benz spawned Smart ForTwo, which looks like a cross between a golf cart and an alien space pod. Our spies caught the Opel Allegra on camera during winter testing, but what’s the big deal? Opel cars aren’t sold in North America, right?

Well, not necessarily. Rumors are floating around that the not-so-smallish micro car might make it overseas rebadged as a Buick. (Why not? It’s not the first Buick to come from Opel). And with the recent launch of the Fiat 500 and the Scion iQ on our shores, the market for mini-cars is growing.

Of course, the name will likely change to keep big pharma happy.

GALLERY: Opel Allegra/Junion Spy Photos